The Potential of Universal Basic Income in Combating Poverty and Climate Change

The Potential of Universal Basic Income in Combating Poverty and Climate Change

The concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been gaining traction as a potential solution to two of the most pressing issues of our time – poverty and climate change. By providing a regular payment to every individual, without any means testing, UBI could potentially replace traditional welfare systems and improve overall well-being. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia sheds light on the possibility of funding UBI through taxing carbon emissions, creating a win-win situation for both individuals and the planet.

One of the major concerns surrounding UBI is the cost associated with such a widespread program. The research estimates that it would cost approximately US$41 trillion to provide a basic income to every person on the planet. However, the study also suggests that by taxing carbon emissions, around US$2.3 trillion could be generated annually to fund UBI. This approach not only addresses the environmental damage caused by polluters but also aims to lift individuals out of poverty.

The researchers project that implementing UBI on a global scale could lead to a significant increase in the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). They estimate that providing a basic income to all individuals could result in a boost of US$163 trillion or 130 percent. This economic impact is attributed to the multiplier effect of UBI, where every dollar spent on basic income generates up to seven dollars in economic activity.

Aside from the economic implications, UBI also holds potential environmental and social benefits. By taxing carbon emissions to fund UBI, companies are held accountable for their environmental impact, leading to more eco-friendly practices. Moreover, UBI could make communities more resilient in times of crisis, such as natural disasters or pandemics, by providing a safety net for individuals’ livelihoods.

Despite its promises, the implementation of UBI faces several challenges. It requires significant political will and agreement, as well as addressing concerns regarding its potential impact on workforce participation and innovation. Finding sustainable funding sources for UBI is also a critical consideration, as relying solely on carbon tax may not be viable in the long term.

The concept of Universal Basic Income offers a promising approach to addressing poverty and climate change simultaneously. By reimagining the way we support individuals and fund social programs, UBI has the potential to create a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone. While challenges remain, the research highlights the economic and social benefits of UBI, urging policymakers to consider innovative solutions to tackle complex societal issues. As the authors of the study suggest, “extraordinary times call for commensurate measures,” and UBI could be the transformative step towards a more resilient and prosperous society.


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